Viola Stapleton, from Bluefield, WV, was first seen speaking on the telephone to her oldest daughter, Registered Nurse Rita Stapleton about her life in Springfield after Rita had moved there. Viola and, and her now deceased husband, had brought up two daughters with old fashioned values and hoped that they would live the values. Viola wanted her girls to be courteous, nice, treat everyone equally, not to prejudge and not to get involved with lecherous men. Unfortunately, on that last value, she had already thought her daughter, Rita, had made some pretty bad decisions. When Rita was in nursing school she brought home a med student, named Greg Fairbanks, who Viola thought was a cute and a pleasant enough young man, until Viola caught him looking at Rita's younger sister, Eve, Later, when Rita called her during the time she worked as a private nurse for rich Texan, Cyrus Granger, Rita told Viola about a man she knew who might be the ruin of her daughter, Roger Thorpe. When Rita moved to Springfield, Rita had told her mom that she was dating a nice young neurosurgeon named Tim Ryan and yet, and yet, Rita was also falling for another doctor, Dr. Ed Bauer whose divorce from his second wife, Holly Norris Bauer hadn't even been finalized. In October 1976, Viola would have a chance herself to move to Springfield, but in a rather very unfortunate way. Viola had been suffering from dizzy spells. Concerned, Rita convinced Eve to move to Springfield with Viola so that she could be treated at Cedars. When Viola was brought to Cedars, where she was treated for a cyst on the brain, she had a chance to meet many of the doctors and nurses that Rita worked with, including Dr. Tim Ryan who helped with her treatment. Of special interest to Viola was a nice older handsome gentleman, Dr. Emmet Scott, who was definitely a person she would want to talk to when she could.
Meanwhile, Viola was on hand to witness Rita deal with a very major crises, and to see Eve get a job working at the thrift shop of Emmet's daughter, the rich elegant divorcee, Jackie Scott Marler owned, Viola could tell right away that there was trouble in store for Rita when, Malcolm Granger came and was constantly following Rita around accusing her of killing his father. Malcolm accused Rita of trying to extort money from Cyrus when he was still alive and that was why Cyrus put Rita in his will (no wonder, Rita had all that money, Viola thought). Not long after, Rita was charged with murdering not only Cyrus, but also Malcolm when he had two heart attacks (the second one fatal) while he was recuperating at Cedars! Meanwhile, Viola's other daughter Eve, had gotten involved with a former criminal that Mike had apparently had the good sense to get his daughter, Hope Bauer away from, artist, Ben McFarren. Viola fretted so about Eve's involvement with Ben, because of all the things Mike had said about him. Viola was glad she could talk about it to that nice Dr. Emmet Scott who took her out on a couple of dates.
Soon after, Viola felt like her life went totally inside-out, when Rita’s lawyer, Mike Bauer got Roger Thorpe to testify in Rita's behalf at the 11th hour. Just as Viola had thought years ago, Rita and Roger had a one-night stand! This got Rita off for killing Cyrus and the hospital board had already cleared her of any wrong doing in Malcolm's case. Unfortunately, Ed broke off the engagement to Rita, because he couldn’t stand Roger. Meanwhile, when Eve witnessed a kiss between Ben and Hope Bauer, she ran out in the middle of a rainstorm and tripped and fell and suffered a concussion. Viola didn't think things could get any worse, until she went to the hospital and discovered that Eve was blind -- this was a major disappointment to both Eve and Viola because Eve had wanted to go into the same profession her mom had before Viola married Rita and Eve's father, teaching. Then Viola had to witness as her new found boyfriend, Emmet Scott suffered a heart attack and had to be admitted to Cedars. After Emmet recovered he would still occasionally date Viola, but he wouldn't be nearly as spry!
As the months progressed, Eve would regain her eyesight and marry Ben McFarren (who Viola agreed was a changed man after helping her daughter during the time she was blind). Viola also watched as Rita got engaged again to Ed. Unfortunately her daughters’ happiness didn't come without some price, because Malcolm Granger's crazy wife, Georgene, had tried to kill Eve twice and one time almost killed Rita after stalking her/ As things would turn out, it was Georgene who had killed Cyrus and also been responsible for her husband's second fatal heart attack.
As time continued to progress, Viola found that she was even more than right about Roger Thorpe, especially when he came back to town and flaunted an affair he was having with Ed's half-sister, Hillary Bauer. Later, after Roger did the unthinkable after marrying, Holly-- he then raped her! Viola then would later find out, as did the rest of Springfield, that Roger had raped Rita as well! Then would come a time very trying for Eve when a new employer of Eve and Ben's, Lucille Wexler -- would come between Eve and Ben's marriage and accuse Ben of having an affair with her daughter, Amanda Wexler Middleton! Well, the gall Viola thought -- although Viola had always thought it wasn't a good idea to confront one of her daughter's employers, one day Viola while visiting Eve told Lucille where she could stuff it! Viola could never tell if Lucille listened to her, because Lucille acted like she was the cat that ate the canary. Later, Viola was heartbroken when Eve came home to tell her mother that Ben had an affair with fellow Spaulding Enterprises employee, Diane Ballard, whom Viola simply detested! After Eve left Ben, Ben started to suffer from major accidents, including getting electrocuted by his own razor! Viola though didn't know what to do or even think, but she knew this was wearing on her daughters, as well as herself. Fortunately, Eve and Rita suggested and paid for a temporary cruise for their mother to go on (probably a good thing, for some of what was about to happen next, for both of her daughters) and on that cruise, she was joined by Emmet. Her daughters would later learn that Viola had met another older handsome gentleman named Henry Chamberlain while Emmet and she realized that their long term relationship was probably over.
When Viola came back to town a couple of months later, just after the beginning of the new decade in 1980, several events would happen in her daughters' life that were just horrible! While she was gone, it appeared that Dr. Greg Fairbanks had come to town and had done what Viola had always thought he might, he started to date Eve, while having an affair with a still married Rita. Then she found out that Diane Ballard had conspired with Greg Fairbanks to set up a scheme to make it look like to Ben that Eve was the one who was pregnant. Meanwhile, it was learned that Roger Thorpe was still alive and was coming after his young daughter, Chrissy. Then the unspeakable happened, at the Cedars Charity Winter Carnival, Roger dressed as a clown kidnapped Rita and held her hostage, for nine days, and then as Ed, Mike and Lt. Larry Wyatt were coming to arrest him at a cabin owned by Roger's father at Indian Lake, Roger bolted and knocked over a lit kerosene lamp that started a blaze that led Rita to suffer a miscarriage. Viola was very upset when she found out that Rita was carrying Ed's baby boy when she miscarried and tried her best to comfort both her daughter and her son-in-law! As if this wasn't bad enough, Eve discovered after her divorce was finalized from Ben that Ben had married Amanda Wexler!
One bright spot in a rather gloomy spring of 1980 would be the arrival of the rich handsome businessman that Viola had met on the cruise, Henry Chamberlain. When Henry saw Viola was living in Springfield, he asked her out on a date. Though his daughter, Vanessa, told her father that Viola wasn't good enough for him, Henry didn't listen to his daughter and for a while Henry took Viola on some more dates behind Vanessa's back.
As 1980 progressed, Eve found some comfort in dating attorney, Ross Marler despite him being the one who had defended Roger Thorpe, in the rape trial. At the same time, Rita continued to worry her mother. When Rita told everyone that Ed's former mother-in-law, Barbara Norris Thorpe was still in love with Adam Thorpe--a secret that Barbara had told Viola in confidence and Viola told Rita--Viola wasn't too happy with her daughter. Then Rita apparently started an affair, when Ed ended up spending too much time with a new patient, Vanessa Chamberlain. Viola, like everyone else, didn't have a clue at first who Rita was having an affair with, but knew that her daughter was headed for trouble and told her so. In 1981, Viola would have even more cause for alarm when Eve started to be stalked though luckily that ended well for Eve. Soon after, would come the undoing of Rita's marriage to Ed. Viola got to witness as her daughter started to get blackmail demands from an anonymous caller about her affair. Viola did guess correctly but was hugely disappointed in her eldest daughter, when Rita told her that the affair was with the wealthy Alan Spaulding who was at that time married to Ed's niece, Hope. Rita decided to pay the blackmailer off (after selling her jewelry) and left town and moved to San Francisco. Later, Viola learned that another person had paid seedy Private Investigator, Joe Bradley, to find out about the affair and Viola was hugely disappointed when Henry admitted it was he and just so Henry could blackmail Alan to get a better deal for a client, Jocelyn Electronics. Viola quickly told Henry that she never wanted to see him again, much to Henry's disappointment.
By this time, Viola had had enough of Springfield and told Eve that it was about time for her to move back to Bluefield. The same day that she left, she was gratified to see that Rita’s blackmailer, Andy Norris, was arrested.